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Results of parental controls consultation released
Sunday 16 December 2012 13:30:26 by Andrew Ferguson

The Department of Education has published the Government's Response to the Parental Controls Consultation and it includes the statistics allowing interested people and groups to assess the public response for themselves.

A total of 3,509 responses were received, of which only 757 were from parents, the bulk (2,413) being from members of the public who did not indentify themselves as responding for a company or other body. Given the level of publicity by websites, the mainstream press and lobbying groups from all sides, one would have expected a much higher level of response. Alas the consultation which started online had a troubled start, with the consultation having to resort to people emailing a word document.

The consultation revolved around three main options for parental controls, which were:

  1. .Some Internet content automatically blocked, and account holder has to ask for blocking to be removed at a later date. This is the current situation with mobile phones in the UK.
  2. A system where on a computer or other device you are automatically asked some questions on what you want your children to be able to access.
  3. A combination of (1) and (2), with the same questions as (2), but some items are ticked by default.

The reponses to the consultation have perhaps come as a surprise to some, as it seems parents are keen to keep responsibility for parenting and to share this with business. Also while pornography is often the headline grabber, issues such as bullying are very high on the list of concerns.

"24. Our approach to child internet safety should therefore evolve in ways so that it:

  • actively helps parents to make sure they have appropriate safety features in place when their children access the internet and also encourages them to think about issues such as grooming, bullying and sexting as well as potentially harmful or inappropriate content
  • covers existing ISP customers as well as new ones
  • prompts or steers parents towards those safety features
  • makes it easier for parents to take charge of setting up the internet access their children will have, and less likely that they will abdicate this responsibility to their children"
Extract from report

This move away from a more formalised approach will be welcomed by many, though respondents from the Voluntary and Community Sector was the only group of respondents that supported automatic blocking (49 in favour, 16 against, 5 not sure) with people being able to request the block being removed. Among parents 264 were in favour of this option, but another 473 said no (11 not sure).

For those who are seeking more information on parental controls and what they can do to protect them then a range of guides and tips are available at


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